Can Copenhagen Save Yosemite?

Photo courtesy the US Bureau of Land Management

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Climate change is forecast to burn Yosemite National Park violently in coming years. A new study in the International Journal of Wildland Fire finds the dwindling spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will exponentially increase the number of lightning-ignited fires.

The increase has two causes:

  • Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appear to be leading to more lightning strikes.
  • Decreasing winter snowpack—conservative climate models predict a 17-percent fall by 2050—will allow more lightning strikes  to ignite fires in the park.

The BBC quotes lead author James Lutz of the U of Washington Seattle:

“People already expect more ignitions from hotter summers. But this research suggests that declines in snowpack will have an additional effect.”

In other words, a warming climate is setting up a nasty positive feedback loop, making a bad situation worse.

Come on, world leaders, lead already.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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